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Neligh Economic Development Director Greg Ptacek was recently recognized one of three finalists for the 2015 Norfolk Area Person of the Year award.
Ptacek said he fell in love with Neligh while courting his wife, Kelly (Eickholt), a 2005 graduate of Neligh-Oakdale. The two met at Wayne State College, married in 2008 and moved to Neligh in 2011. Kelly Ptacek teaches Title I at Neligh-Oakdale and the couple have two children - daughter Alexis and son Crispin.
Originally from Osceola, Ptacek - who has a degree in political science and history and is working toward a masters in public administration - was hired as Neligh’s first economic development director in 2012. Since he was hired, the Economic Development office has completed several project, which assisted in creating 19 jobs and helping to retain 75 jobs in Neligh. To date, $92,000 in LB 840 loads have led to 34 jobs in the community.
“When interviewing, I told the board I wasn’t going to chase smokestacks. If that's what they wanted, I wasn't their guy. That’s where economic development was 10 years ago, but not now,” Ptacek told the Antelope County News last year. “We’re taking a more holistic approach to getting entrepreneurs to invest in Neligh, and we’re seeing success. Neligh is growing.”
The Norfolk Area Person of the Year award is sponsored by the Elkhorn Valley Bank and Norfolk Daily News.
Below are excerpts from some of the nomination letters in support of Greg Ptacek (printed in the Norfolk Daily News and also provided to the Antelope County News):
"Greg exemplifies the kind of energy, enthusiasm and work ethic we need to keep rural Nebraska alive and thriving. Since re-launching the Neligh Economic Development office after a 20-year gap in service, Greg has made a difference in our area not only economically but also by igniting a positive energy in the community." Stephanie Wanek, Neligh City Council member
"Since he began his position for the City of Neligh, the town has exploded with growth in many directions. I had been watching the growth and was incredibly impressed by this young man's tenacity in his appointed position. I was so impressed with Mr. Ptacek that when the city decided to hire an assistant economic development director in June, I applied for the position even though it was a complete career change for me, and at the time I was extremely happy with the job that I had. I saw the vision and wanted to be part of this program as I believe his mission is so important." Lauren Sheridan-Simonsen, Assistant Economic Development Director
"Greg still finds time to spend with his family. When you see him at many of these events, he is there with his family, and that is one thing that really clinches my thought of why he deserves (Norfolk Area Person of the Year). He hasn't sacrificed his time with his family to help build his career or community. He has involved, or should I say, integrated, that love of family to build the community. His energy and passion can be noticed every time you and around him, and I don't think I've ever seen him without a smile on his face." Steve Simonsen, Local Business Owner
"Greg's fortitude does not appear to waver despite the challenges all small towns face with funding or structures. In fact, at the time of writing this nomination, Greg has contributed to Bomgaars and the Mill Pointe LLC with their business expansion. He realized the impact of Bomgaars nearly doubling the size of their retail store and the Mill Pointe LLC developing a new four-plex multi-business had on a community of Neligh's size. Greg worked extensively on both projects with tireless determination and stamina to help guide both projects to fruition." Dana Klabenes, City Clerk